Seven malnourished special needs children have been found in a deadbolted, urine-soaked bedroom in a Fort Bend, Texas, home.
The children, five boys and two girls aged between 13 and 16, were rescued by Child Protective Services on the day before Thanksgiving, reports the Daily Mail. One of the children, a boy with Down syndrome, was found by CPS wearing a soiled diaper. Their adoptive mother, Paula Sinclair, 54, has been taken into custody on child abuse and kidnapping charges.
Authorities also took Allen Richardson, 78, into custody. Richardson owns the house where the children were found. The Fort Bend Herald reports that Richardson is Sinclair’s boyfriend. Sinclair lived at the house with Richardson and the children, but their adoptive father, Sinclair’s husband, does not live with them.
In addition, three disabled adults lived in the house, as part of a group home run by Sinclair, according to KPRC. The adults lived on the first floor, and the children on the second floor. The adults and children were not allowed to mingle with each other.
“I’ve never been upstairs,” said David Willard, one of the adults. “I have never been upstairs in five months. Of course, I was told not to speak to anybody here.”
Referring to the children, Willard said, “They’d go to the bottom of the stairs, the kids would wait and Coach [Richardson’s nickname] would bring them a tray with beans and rice, three times a day. That’s how they were fed.”
They were forced to eat in their room, a 5-foot by 8-foot storage room that the seven children shared, according to the Daily Mail. The room was strewn with garbage, and smelled of urine and feces. Willard described the home as a “frigging, blanking prison.”
The children had, at one point, plotted an escape from the house. They threw a pillow out the window to cushion them when they jumped from their second-floor bedroom. However, they never carried out their plan.
Between 2003 and 2004, Sinclair and her husband adopted eight children. In 2011, her seven-year-old daughter, who suffered from cerebral palsy, passed away. The cause of her death has not been released.
Officials say that Sinclair disciplined her children by beating them with a wooden paddle, causing injuries.
Following their rescue, the children were taken to a hospital and were placed in foster care following treatment.